In an article released today in Nature Biotechnology, brings great hope for cancer therapy. In a major advancement in nanomedicine, Arizona State University (ASU) scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST), of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.
“Using DNA origami we constructed an autonomous DNA robot programmed to transport payloads and present them specifically in tumors.” The article explains.
Each nanorobot is made from a flat, rectangular DNA origami sheet, 90 nanometers by 60 nanometers in size. A key blood-clotting enzyme, called thrombin, is attached to the surface.
Thrombin can block tumor blood flow by clotting the blood within the vessels that feed tumor growth, causing a sort of tumor mini-heart attack, and leading to tumor tissue death.
The treatment blocked tumor blood supply and generated tumor tissue damage within 24 hours while having no effect on healthy tissues. After attacking tumors, most of the nanorobots were cleared and degraded from the body after 24 hours.
Nanomedicine is a new branch of medicine that seeks to combine the promise of nanotechnology to open up entirely new avenues for treatments, such as making minuscule, molecule-sized nanoparticles to diagnose and treat difficult diseases, especially cancer. The current methods of either using chemotherapy to destroy every cell just to get at the cancer cell are barbaric in comparison. Using targeted drugs is also not as exact as simply cutting off blood supply and killing the cancer on the spot. Should this new technique gain approval for use on humans in the near future it could have impressive affects on those afflicted with the disease.
Ref: Suping Li, Qiao Jiang, Shaoli Liu, Yinlong Zhang, Yanhua Tian, Chen Song, Jing Wang, Yiguo Zou, Gregory J Anderson, Jing-Yan Han, Yung Chang, Yan Liu, Chen Zhang, Liang Chen, Guangbiao Zhou, Guangjun Nie, Hao Yan, Baoquan Ding, Yuliang Zhao. A DNA nanorobot functions as a cancer therapeutic in response to a molecular trigger in vivo. Nature Biotechnology, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.4071